You have a relative or friend who is on the verge of homelessness or needs a place to stay. You never considered becoming a landlord. But Salt Lake City has a serious housing shortage, especially severe for low-income people—those who earn low wages or live on Social Security for example.

Salt Lake City ADU
Image courtesy of Modal

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The Salt Lake City Planning Division has designed a handbook for property owners who are interested in building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) on a lot that has an existing single-family home. This guide provides you with general information including: eligibility, ADU configurations, application process, commonly used terms, frequently asked questions and resources.

As a solution, this year Salt Lake City officials are opening up another option for homeowners, allowing them to create backyard spaces, rentable mother-in-law units, officially known as accessory dwelling units or ADUs. While this won’t fix the affordable housing issue, allowing homeowners to offer additional renting spaces, such as ADUs, seems like a good option.

Of course, there are many strings and zoning restrictions attached. There is still a lot of NIMBY attitude towards extra dwellings—concerns about parking, trash removal and other not-so-nice neighbor issues. ADUs could also reflect well or badly on your home’s property value. And ADUs can be expensive to build.

As an option, locally made Modal builds “small but smart” ADU units which provide a cost-effective way for homeowners to add living space to their property. More efficient than traditional construction, the 432 sq ft. units are built off-site, then installed on-property. Modal arranges for all building permits and utility connections and includes built-in furniture. The average units cost around $120,000 and once installed, the owner can rent or use them how they wish. For more information visit

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